Monday, May 2, 2022

What I would do if I were Xi Jinping

Here's what I would do if I were Xi.  I'd invade Taiwan.

Consider: America is weaker and more divided that it has been for 50 years.  A weak, divided America is likely what Xi will see as being in China's best interests.

Consider also: NATO will find itself strained in any response, because it has sent so much equipment to Ukraine that it might not have a lot left to send to Taiwan.  NATO seems to want to keep the pressure on Russia, to bleed Putin and get regime change.  NATO will either be distracted from Taiwan, or will have to give up their dreams of different rulers in the Kremlin.  It may take NATO long enough to figure out what to do that the Taiwan invasion becomes a fait accompli. Advantage: China.

Consider also [2]: A June or July invasion will likely wrap up before the elections in November.  Losing Taiwan (after a pretty disastrous  response to Ukraine and a completely disastrous pullout from Afghanistan) will likely contribute to a rout of the Democrats in the election.  Big GOP Congressional majorities will further weaken Biden.  A weakened Biden is likely what Xi will see as being in China's best interests.

Consider also [3]: Even if a strong Republican gets elected to the White House in 2024, that will be 2 years after the fact, allowing China to consolidate/reintegrate Taiwan.  It will be hard to put that toothpaste back in the bottle.

The downside is looking like an aggressor in public.  Perhaps the biggest fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine is the prospect of Finland and Sweden joining NATO out of a sense of needing help against the Russian bear.  You could see something similar with India, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, and Japan joining together in an anti-China bloc.  My take is that Xi doesn't care - China has never been expansionist outside of China (and they absolutely see Taiwan as part of China).  The domination they seek is economic, not military, and since the hypothetical Asian bloc would never be able to invade the homeland, this is likely not much of a consideration.  Also, if America and NATO are weakened then there may not be a credible alternative to China in Asia.

So the downsides are low, the benefits to China are likely high, and both of these could very well change in the next two (or even one) year.  The iron is hot, right now.  Timing will probably never be more in China's favor than now.

This is maybe a good time to short Taiwanese stocks.


Jonathan H said...

Don't forget that as the fighting in Ukraine has shown the Russian military to be a paper tiger, contrary to their propaganda, a major war would do the same to China, though not as badly.
Their public image makes their military much better than it appears to be.
There are also the semi secret Taiwanese nuclear claims out there to worry them.

The Wraith said...

You mean the "paper tiger" which was supposed to be out of arms and ammo and totally driven from the Ukraine a month ago? I don't think the propaganda involved here is strictly Russian...

ambisinistral said...

China is in no shape to try to launch the largest amphibious assault since Inchon (which was largely undefended). That said, the CCP may be stupid enough to try it.

Michael said...

The Chinese think the Long View. They play GO not checkers.

That's why China currently holds the bulk of the world's food and energy in a multi-year stockpile while the USA has NO Food nor Fuel Reserves as Biden drew down our pathetic 10-day Strategic Oil Reserves as to "Improve his Ratings". I understand China and Russia have more than a year's worth of computer chips in storage. They do not believe in Just In Time production. Russia currently has a two plus year supply of food as well as nuclear shelters for its entire population AND is energy independent.

Taiwan imports the bulk of its food and ALL of its energy.

The Fuel and Food shortages in the World are about to get real. Michael Yon calls it PanFamWar. I call it China's Famine Wars.

Already there are food riots going on as we read this message. Think about that, just because US Media is fretting about some B rated Actress taking a dump in Johnny Deps bed doesn't mean the Rest of the World worries about it.

Once PanFamWar hits Taiwan, China will grant their Chinese Brothers food and fuel from their multi-year stockpiles while the rest of the world offers bland promises of what? More fake dollar bills with nothing to buy with them?

Attacking Taiwan would destroy the Golden Goose of the worlds Chip manufacturing.

China values profits over almost everything except losing Face. They figured it was cheaper to BUY a few Dozen American "Leaders" for far less than the cost for a Single 3-4th Gen Fighter Jet than it was to fight anybody. They OWN Biden and Pelosi as well as the Deep State or Biden would have never made it to the WH.

Rich Chinese families marry across the Taiwan strait. Once the US umbrella of "Security" is proven a ragged pile of bits and bobs, Taiwan will make a Business Deal. China will guarantee Taiwan's security and give them special status. Taiwan will probably hold the demolition of the Chip factories as their version of security.

Both sides keep Face and China is one.

China controls the worlds supply of chip manufactory and oddly fires and explosions (from China's version of the 3 letter folks) destroy their competition. Notice how US Food (Not International nor the ones owned by China in the US) are Burning lately?

Curiouser and curiouser said the Cheshire Cat as it slowly disappeared with its big grin fading last.

Lawrence Person said...

Nah, if China tries it there's an excellent chance it gets its ass kicked.

Will Brown said...

Your points for consideration are all excellent, but I notice they are exclusively focused on China winning, not Xi Jinping. Unless and until Xi can convince himself of his personal survival of a Taiwan invasion, I suspect he will continue to pursue the long game approach. If a significant percentage of the CCP (in particular that percentage that supports his continuance as modern emperor) were to lose their only family (ie: political) heir, Xi's chances of continued life are vanishingly small.

The current Taiwan government doesn't even have to "win" militarily, they only need to extract a sufficient familial price from the current CCP leadership.

Glen Filthie said...


I don't think so, BP. The question you have to ask is 'would you want it?' if you were in his shoes. China is built on the same financial house of cards that the USA is. Trade with the eeeeeevil Yanks is crucial - you are their biggest trading partner. If the US tanked today, China would fall tomorrow. Taiwan might be a tasty morsel for them in a functional economy but all that is a thing of the past now that Russia has decided to stand up to Globohomo Inc. It's all well and good to have the production capacity for a vassal state like Taiwan... but there has to be a market to make it pay. Xi might want to hold off a bit to see which way the winds will blow...

Blue said...

I have been told there's a heap of intermarriage between elites. I'd pick it as more likely to be one day they announce a reintegration, with some privileges' for the Taiwanese elite.

As for removing Putin, gah. I've seen plenty of indications he's the moderate, I reckon the future will see the failure to shy away from blaming Russia for nearly everything as one of the biggest policy failures of the western world post soviet union.

But you know, opinions, etc.

Michael said...

It's really odd to hear smart folks working from the assumption that the USA is a critical trading partner for China.

We export fiat Depreciating value Petrodollars, and they sell real things. How long did you expect that to continue when Every Oil Producer is ACCEPTING Yaun for their Oil? The Petrodollar is nearly dead.

If Russia even Survives the Ukraine PROXY War against the USA, then even our "Vaunted Military Power" BACKING our Dollars will also be dead. It's badly wounded by our cowardly Afghanistan retreat.

Russia doesn't have to WIN in Ukraine, just survive and keep China from adsorbing them.

Seems China also doesn't believe in keeping all their eggs in one basket. They have been quietly SPENDING their Treasury Bill collection for real things. Ownership of things that make money NOT Ever Depreciating US Dollars. Things like the Panama Canal.

Our OWN Government "Leadership" is strip mining our country and soon the paper tiger of the US Economy is going up in the flames of Hyperinflation.

Got FOOD as in LOTS of Food and safe water? Got what you need to repair your home when the windows and roof need repairs?

As a bit of a historian, I noticed when the Great Britian Pound stopped being the World Reserve Currency EVERYTHING in England doubled in price.

We should expect that and worse as UNLIKE England, we don't have a friendly USA to become the Big Brother. We've been busy making enemies across this globe.

How many meals to Chaos? We may find out pretty soon.

Praying for wisdom

Old NFO said...

I tend to agree with Michael!

Antibubba said...

I think China is looking in the other direction: to their west.

China will soon be in the position to save Russia's collective ass as one of the only major economies to not join the sanctions. Russia is going to have to give them something, short- or long-term. Russia has a lot of land it can't use or manage; between war and a steady decline in the birthrate, there is a lot of fallow, unused space. It may not officially change hands, but which far-off capital is making the rules may.

Given all the other problems his term has had, the Ukraine war has been a bright spot for Biden. It's made him look like a strong, wise leader. But Taiwan has a strategic and financial importance to the US that Ukraine doesn't. Even if we've never officially recognized them, we are allies. China's invasion of Taiwan would be grounds for a war declaration, and nobody in Congress with the slightest bit of sense will side with China on this one, especially Republicans. They'll be like crabs in a pot fighting to be the most patriotic anticommunist around.

Xi's best bet is to wait for the next Trump-inspired GOP isolationist POTUS before making a move.

Aesop said...

China hasn't won a single war (other than Tibet) in its entire history from 1949-present.
Korea: draw.
India (multiple times since 1950): draw
Vietnam: loss

They were given Hong Kong and Macau, and they definitely won Tiananmen Square, so if they had to face unarmed protesters, Advantage ChiComs. Otherwise, not so much.

Try to recall that after the U.S. trying eight or more massive amphibious landings for practice and learning, a 40-mile jaunt to Normandy from England in 1944 was a very near-run thing. If Hitler had been less incompetent, the invasion would have been thrown into the sea, and the war would've gone on until we had to nuke Berlin, probably another year or more.

China's blue-water operations could be described on a Post-It, and their amphibious landing experience since Ever is exactly Nil.

It's 100 miles to Taiwan, not 40.

A few AS missiles (RSS Moskva says "Hi!"), and their shiny blue water fleet becomes a shiny blue-water submarine fleet.

If Taiwan, possessing better tech now than the US did in 1944 by three orders of magnitude, decides to deploy a Canned Sunshine Surprise, China's fleet disappears in several iterations of the Holy White Light Of Enlightenment, last seen a few hundred miles to the northeast circa 1945.

China wants Taiwan relatively intact, not burnt to the ground. Taiwan wants China to Eff Off with extreme prejudice, and will be ten times the military problem Ukraine is for Russia.

80/20 Xi talks tough, and bides his time, and continues to play the peaceful long game.

They simply cannot afford to become the international pariah Russia is already, politically or financially, and the odds of them successfully pulling off an invasion are conservatively 10:1 against.

China would love to have Taiwan for their own, but wanting and getting are two different things, as Putin has learned to great cost.

Michael said...

Aesop, please show your work on this statement

Taiwan wants China to Eff Off with extreme prejudice, and will be ten times the military problem Ukraine is for Russia.

I'd love to hear of your expertise in Asian studies also.

Facts stand that Chinese are "THE HAN". All others are Non-HAN. Their actual terms are far less friendly to non-Han. Thus even now the Rich Taiwanese families are marrying Rich Chinese families IN MAIN LAND CHINA.

Pretty ODD if they have such "Hate" for them eh?

Simply put the Powerful families of Taiwan want to maintain their power structures and when China offers them food and fuel during the upcoming Famine Wars as well as demolition "rights" to their Factories a Business Deal (Like between Mafia Families) will occur.

The results to the badly weakened USA due to a little Proxy War for Peliosi's moola will be pretty harsh.

All math equations require a denominator. Trillions in US Dollars X value of Zero = Zero. Thus the Chinese SPENDING those T-bills as fast as possible in bribes, more food, more energy and things like the Panama Canal.

Aesop said...

That took all of seven seconds to find.

I can show you the reality, but I can't read the articles to you.

Taiwan isn't in favor of rocking the boat, they'd like things to stay peaceful, and maintain the status quo - with the PRC 100 miles and a whole generation of Effing Off and MYOB away.

But they reject re-unification no matter what by 90:10; more of them regard themselves as a separate independent country; self-identify as Taiwanese, not Chinese, by growing numbers with every passing year; and are willing to go to war to maintain their independence if pushed, and all those numbers harden and move more to the harsh end of things with every passing year.

So my expertise in Asian studies seems to nail reality better than yours by a wide margin, but that's only if we want to listen to every single recent poll of those who actually live in Taiwan.

Since you asked.

Work shown.

Michael said...

LOL and the key note is the US should FIGHT for their Independence :-)

Thanks Aesop I needed a good laugh this morning.

Pay attention to reality instead of "Polls" sometime.

Lack of fuel and food might change those "Poll" numbers a bit.

Lack of American ability to defend anybody might also.

Rich People are the 1-3% of a Country that RUNS things, Like you know AMERICA? Their concerns for the Masses is noteworthy :-)

Power and retaining power is their sole concern.

90% that Sir.

Gerry said...

I agree that like Russia, China does not have a war tested army or navy.
Xi maybe now wondering how much BS has his military been feeding him over the years.
Better not to fight than to lose badly.
Play the long game and win economically.
BTW Russian play chess not checkers but that didn't seem to help them did it?

John Fisher said...

The wild card in the Taiwan scenario is whether the Taiwanese are a 'quarter turn of a wrench' from having nuclear weapons. It was rumored that both Israel and Taiwan were involved in the South Africa nuclear program that resulted in a test blast in the South Atlantic back in the late 70s.

Aesop said...

Got it, Michael: ignore our lying eyes, and listen to you, because you've got nothing.

How well has the hard sell worked against Ukraine, which unlike Taiwan lacks a 100-mile wide moat in all directions?

Maybe try reading my namesake's story about The North Wind And The Sun. You might learn something. Let me know when the penny drops for you.

And stop rooting for the long shot. The story is 2600 years old; you're not going to re-write the ending by gainsaying.

Michael said...

Time will tell Aesop, meanwhile enjoy the fuel prices and everything else climbing as we speak. You love to point out Russian Ruble troubles as "Proof" they are losing. Have you looked in the mirror lately?

Signs and symptoms of a healthy Republic you know. A Ministry of Disinformation, that and political "Leadership" "Leaking" stories to distract the masses. "Healthy Political Discourse EVERYWHERE". Do I need a sarc tag here?

The rest of the world watches this also.

The rest of the world looks at the doddering Depends wearing fool "Leader of the FREE World" and our cowardly retreat from Afghanistan and wonders what our "Full Faith and such" backing the US Dollar really means.

Our exports are the Petrodollar and War Toys. We've "Own Goaled" ourselves in almost everything else. We've Own Goaled ourselves with food production and energy. And rumor has it that lack of Chinese parts has given concerns about our War Toys supplies. Nothing like outsourcing your defenses, eh?

In case you missed it OPEC sells their oil in any form of money now. Yaun, Rubles, Grams of Gold, Euros and so forth. The Petrodollar is but one form of currently acceptable exchange.

WHY does this matter you might ask? Because the basis of your arrogance is the Power of the USA. Aside from the ability to nuke the whole world (sort of like your arguments against Russia, eh?) our "OWN GOALS" (as you like to say) have rendered us into a situation where a stolen election and a Sock Puppet is the "Leader of the FREE World".

Thus, Taiwan feels SO PROTECTED by the "Doctrine of Ambiguity".

In the basis of my argument (something you fail to grasp it seems from your replies) is the US isn't the big dog defender of Taiwan, nor despite our attempts to strip Russian Oil from Europe the powerful ones that direct the flows of oil, food and such around this globe anymore.

When, NOT IF energy shortages and famine start affecting the folks in Taiwan I am willing to bet the USA will offer DOLLARS and China will offer food and energy from their own stockpiles.

Who will be the Friends of Taiwan then?

We BOTH Know just how fast public polls and opinions can be changed. Thus my amusement of a Poll "Proving" that real politics cannot win over the Taiwanese.

China plays the Long Game and as they are NOT good at War as you so often point out, they simply BUY American "Leadership" to USE US as their weapon of distraction and destruction.

So, when do you ever admit just maybe you're not the expert in all things, Sir? Your good at misdirection and strawman arguments.

The citizens of Rome didn't want to accept that Rome was rotting from the Head Down like a bad fish. And like Rome we distract our citizens with Bread and Circuses UNTIL the Bread ran out.

Famine wars or as Michael Yon says PanFamWar. Protect your families as the family is the basis of civilization. Thus the Socialist-Democrats efforts to destroy them.

Basics like shelter, food, safe water and trusted friends are far more important that Anti-Russian rantings. I'd advise you Aesop to find a safe bolt hole like the smarter Romans did. Camp Snoopy doesn't exist and a few boxes of food under your bed is cold comfort when riots and fires are everywhere around your hospital and apartment.

Tempus Fugit.

Peter B said...

For years Taiwan's doctrine has been to hold out against the PLA until the US military takes over. That's looking really good these days.

Russia is not the only country with demographic problems. China's population is aging. They only way to cushion the demographic fall is to be the world's economic top dog. They're already involved with resource exploitation in Siberia, are increasingly important customers for Gulf oil, and in general are working hard to tie up strategic resources globally.

Remember the way the PRC grabbed PPE worldwide during the early days of COVID?